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Former Cuban hostage Alan Gross to speak at USF next week

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Alan Gross, the American aid worker who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years before his release in December of 2014, will speak at USF next Tuesday night, April 19.

Gross traveled to Cuba in December of 2011 to  spread the values and benefits of democracy by helping to make internet service more accessible; he had visited synagogues and Jewish leaders across the country, including introducing them to search engines and Spanish-language Wikipedia. For those actions, he was convicted buy Cuban authorities of undertaking “a subversive project” to “destroy the Revolution” in Cuba, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. U.S. officials protested strongly, characterizing Gross as a humanitarian.

Thanks to the work of a number of humanitarian groups and his wife, Gross was released in December of 2014 as part of an announcement by President Obama that the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after five decades.

A USF press release says that Gross will “candidly share the story of his incarceration, the people he met, the ordeals he experienced, and the adventures and lessons he has learned in his career.”

Since his release, Gross has become an outspoken advocate for ending the economic embargo against the Communist island.

Gross will speak in the Marshall Student Center at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)

The lecture is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis following priority seating for USF students. There will be an open reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Top of the Palms restaurant on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center and a meet and greet following the lecture. For more information about the lecture series, including the audience policy,


Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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